State Department Deeply Troubled by Kavala’s Unjust Conviction

The US State Department stressed in a statement on Monday how deeply troubled and disappointed the United States was by the unjust conviction of the leading Turkish activist Osman Kavala.

The Istanbul court accused Kavala of allegedly funding 2013 large-scale protests in Gezi Park and participating in the failed 2016 coup to overthrow then-prime minister Erdogan’s government.

Kavala, a harsh critic of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who had already been jailed for more than four years without a conviction, has received a life sentence without parole on controversial charges of trying to topple the government.

Although initially, in 2020, Kavala was acquitted of the 2013-related charge, he was re-arrested soon afterward and accused of the coup offense, ultimately ending up prosecuted over his involvement in both uprisings before his charges were merged and an espionage indictment was added to it.

The complicated timeline saw him acquitted and re-accused multiple times of both counts.

State Department spokesman Ned Price underscored that Kavala’s unjust conviction is inconsistent with respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law.

Washington has denounced the constant judicial harassment of civil society, media, political, and business leaders in Turkey and has called for the release not only of Kavala but all others arbitrarily incarcerated in the country.

Turkish businessman-turned-rights-campaigner Kavala was a leading figure in Turkey’s civil society and his plight had soured relations between Ankara and Western nations.

Before his 2017 arrest which has become a diplomatic sticking point, Kavala was known outside the country primarily for promoting cultural reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia.

Monday’s ruling has drawn swift condemnation from some of Turkey’s main allies in the NATO as well as rights campaigners while the Council of Europe has previously launched rare disciplinary, infringement proceedings that could ultimately see Turkey’s membership in Europe’s main human rights grouping suspended due to Kavala’s maltreatment and Turkey’s refusal to heed a 2019 ruling by the ECHR demanding Kavala’s release due to a violation of his rights.

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